After 20 Straight Hours of Rail Negotiations, an 'Important Win'

Biden says strike averted after tentative deal is reached between freight railroads, unions
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2022 6:16 AM CDT
Biden Says Deal Reached to Avoid Rail Strike
A CSX freight train runs through a crossing in Homestead, Pa., on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Looks like there won't be a rail shutdown after all. On Thursday, President Biden announced that a tentative deal has been struck between freight railroads and unions, averting a strike that could have cost the US economy more than $2 billion per day, reports the New York Times. It was a hard-fought arrangement ahead of the Friday deadline, reached only after 20 straight hours of negotiations, according to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. "The tentative agreement reached tonight is an important win for our economy and the American people," Biden said in a statement.

Although specifics weren't released, the president's statement noted that workers could look forward to "better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs." One of the biggest points of contention for workers had been demand for paid sick leave. If a strike had commenced, it would have majorly slowed down the delivery of goods, disrupted commuter trains, intensified supply chain issues, and potentially resulted in big layoffs, per the Washington Post.

The deal's next stop: a union member ratification vote, a process that can take several weeks, and during which the rail workers have agreed to stay on the job. "Our rail system is integral to our supply chain, and a disruption would have had catastrophic impacts on industries, travelers and families across the country," Walsh wrote online in his early morning tweet. (Read more freight train stories.)

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